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RUSSIA: Hundreds protesting against pension reform detained

Police officers chase protesters during a rally against planned increases to the nationwide pension age in Moscow, Russia September 9, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russian police detained more than 800 people protesting against planned increases to the pension age on Sunday, a rights group said, disrupting demonstrations against an unpopular change that has hurt President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating.

The protests, organized by jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his supporters, were a challenge to the authorities who were hoping for a high turnout at regional elections also being held on Sunday, despite anger over the pension move.

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Footage of the protests, which were held in more than 80 towns and cities, showed the police sometimes using force to disperse rallies, beating participants with batons and dragging them away. The authorities refused to authorize most of the meetings, declaring them illegal.

OVD-Info, a rights organization that monitors detentions, said 839 people had been detained by police on Sunday in 33 cities, including some of Navalny’s closest aides.

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